Nikola Tesla, who helped usher in modern radio and electricity, turns 158

A couple walks past a large banner with A couple walks past a large banner with the photograph of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla Monday following the dedication of the Tesla monument at Wardenrclyffe in Shoreham in Sept. 23, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Happy 158th birthday, Nikola Tesla.

The anniversary of the Serbian-American inventor's birth will be celebrated Thursday with cake and a flag-raising ceremony at his former laboratory in Shoreham, followed by discussions of his work at Shoreham-Wading River High School. Both events are free.

Tesla, who was born July 10, 1856, in Croatia, has been credited with developing wireless technologies and devising some of the major components used in modern radio and electricity.

Tesla achieved local fame in the early 20th century when he worked for about 12 years in a Shoreham lab called Wardenclyffe, at Route 25A and Randall Road. Tesla died destitute at age 87 in 1943 at The New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan.

"He's the reason we're turning our lights on today," said Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, which is organizing the events. "We're starting to see the fruition of some of his dreams."

The first portion of the party will run from 10 a.m. to noon at Wardenclyffe. The event will be live-streamed at remembertesla.com.

Later, Tesla biographer W. Bernard Carlson is scheduled to present a program on the inventor's life and work at 7:30 p.m. at Shoreham-Wading River High School, 250 Rte. 25A, Shoreham.

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Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist Nikolaos Simos is scheduled to speak at the school about Tesla's work at Wardenclyffe and the science behind his plans. Alcorn and members of the Tesla Science Center's board of directors also will speak. Tesla's former lab had faced an uncertain future until last year, when the inventor's fans raised more than $850,000 to buy the 16-acre site from Belgian conglomerate Agfa.

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